In the tradition of Go Ask Alice and Lucy in the Sky, a harrowing account of anorexia and addiction.
She was a good girl from a good family, with everything she could want or need. But below the surface, she felt like she could never be good enough. Like she could never live up to the expectations that surrounded her. Like she couldn’t do anything to make a change.
But there was one thing she could control completely: how much she ate. The less she ate, the better—stronger—she felt.
But it’s a dangerous game, and there is such a thing as going too far…
Her innermost thoughts and feelings are chronicled in the diary she left behind.
A.M. snack: (Who has time for this?) Jill gave me a Life Saver in English. (Does that even count?) It was green.
Lunch: Turkey wrap with Swiss cheese, SunChips, Fresca, 1/2 bag of gummy fruit snacks.
P.M. snack: Other 1/2 of the gummy fruit snacks.
Dinner: Lasagna (1 square), Caesar salad with croutons. Dad made brownies. Ate two.
Now I’m supposed to “write a few sentences about how I feel.” I feel this food diary is strange, and sort of funny. When Coach Perkins handed them out brouhaha ensued. (“Brouhaha” was a word on my final vocab quiz of sophomore year today. As was the word “ensued.”)
Coach Perkins passed out pamphlets at practice. Not really pamphlets but I like all those p’s. Journals, actually.
Coach: It’s a “food diary.”
Vanessa: What is this for?
Geoff: Why don’t I get one?
Coach: Only the ladies.
Coach said girls on other cross-country teams have been using our sport to hide their eating disorders. They run until they collapse from not eating enough, not drinking enough, not knowing enough. Hello? Dingbat? Running four to eight miles per day? You’re going to need some calories. (At least two brownies after dinner.)
Naturally, the adults are only now catching on. They thought that’s just what runners look like. Parents: sometimes clueless.
As a result of not eating, these girls get sick, and we girls get to write everything down.
I still feel it’s funny, somehow . . . or maybe absurd. (Also on the vocab quiz.)
Not Vanessa: This is unfair! What about the guys?
Or Geoff: Yeah! This is cool! I wanna do it too!
Ugh. Lovebirds. Too cute = puke.
(COACH PERKINS: If you’re actually reading this, that was a figurative “puke” not a literal “puke.”)
Coach says she’ll be checking the diary every practice, and then over the summer when we meet up to check in once a month before school starts. Coach Perkins is pretty.
Ponytail, push-up bra, probably pushing forty. Not one to be trifled with. Tough as nails.
Jill was painting her nails in my room after practice during our weekly Friday-night hang out. I told her about the food diary, and how I found it preposterous.
Jill: Please. I’ve been keeping one for six weeks.
Me (laughing): WHY?
Jill: So I can lose ten pounds.
Me: You’ll disappear.
Jill: Shut up.
Me: Seriously. You already look like a Q-tip on toe shoes.
Jill: The Nutcracker Nemesis must be vanquished.
Me: You’re losing ten pounds for Misty Jenkins?
Jill: I’m losing ten pounds for me. I will be Clara this Christmas or you have seen my last pirouette.
She blew on her nails and looked at me with the same wide-eyed stare she has presented each Friday night past when making pronouncements of epic proportions over popcorn. These are not to be pooh-poohed, and I made the mistake of laughing.